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Children's Health

Establish Routines to Ease Back into School Schedule

It's  back-to-school time! 

Are you dreading it more than the kids do because it is always such a struggle to get them back into a routine after summer break?  Wondering what you can to help things go more smoothly?


It’s all in the routine.

And the more quickly you set up that routine at the beginning of the school year, the more it will pay off.

Although they might complain about sticking to a new day-to-day routine at first, young people need such structure. If they know what is next on their daily schedule, it helps them feel more secure and well rested.

Being organized is even more important if your children have after-school or evening activities.  Making lists and finding ways to get chores, homework and everything else done will help the whole family in the short term.  And in the long term, it will help them to develop time-management skills.


Set Up a Routine.

So, as school begins, figure out what your routines will be.  After school or after dinner, you might want to first have some quiet reading or homework time. Then have the kids set aside clothes for the next day and be sure their backpacks are ready and by the door. Then, help them prepare lunches and store them in the refrigerator, or look at the cafeteria menu and help them decide what they will buy -- and be sure they have enough lunch money.

In the morning, your children’s routine should always include breakfast, whether at home or at school. Your kids may think they are not hungry, but if they do not eat, they will regret it an hour later. Research from Cornell University shows that children who eat breakfast feel better and tend to learn and behave better in the hours before lunch than those who do not eat breakfast. Ideally, a breakfast should include a:

After about two weeks of sticking to the new daily schedule, it should become a habit. But if something just is not working, be sure to talk about it.  You might want to debrief every once in a while — maybe even once a day.   Ask the kids what is going smoothly for them about the new daily routine and what needs to change.


Stay Positive.

Finally, as a parent you need to remember that if you want your children to have a positive attitude about the school year, you are going to have to have one, too.  So, try to shake off that dread you are feeling. If you are feeling anxious or negative about anything school-related, your children will likely notice it.

So, try to be excited for your kids and the new school year they are facing. Ask them what they like about school so far, and find out what they are most interested in doing during the school year.


Help spark an attitude of curiosity and creativity in your kids, and they will be better off for it!



 Kleinman, RE., et al. “Hunger in children in the United States: potential behavioral and emotional correlates.” Pediatrics, v. 101 issue 1, 1998, p. E3.


This article originally appeared in Family Fundamentals, a service of Ohio State University Extension and the Ohio Agricultural Research and Development Center and was adapted for use on NetWellness with permission.


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Last Reviewed: Sep 03, 2013

Melinda Hill, MS
County Extension Director & Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Science
College of Food, Agricultural, & Environmental Science
The Ohio State University